Dodgers option Ellis to AAA; Hart should return this week; UK, WKU catchers honored for academic work

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

A. J. Ellis; Photo by frankat1stbase3 via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times reports the Dodgers have optioned PLD alum A. J. Ellis to AAA Albuquerque to make room for previously injured catcher Dionner Navarro.
  • Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart will return to the Milwaukee Brewers today, but may not be immediately activated from the disabled list.
  • Jason Grey of ESPN.com has posted an in-depth breakdown of Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb‘s rehab appearance in extended spring training on Monday
  • Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal profiles Louisville Bats outfielder Danny Dorn, who only committed to baseball full time after a shoulder injury ended his football career in high school.
  • John Fay, writing for Baseball America, reports the Reds are happy with Bats’ slugger Yonder Alonso‘s transition to left field so far but caution the transition will be slow going. (Subscription required)
  • University of Kentucky redshirt junior catcher T. J. Daugherty was named the UK male scholar athlete of the year at Monday’s Catspy Awards.
  • Former Western Kentucky University star pitcher Matt Ridings notes via Twitter that WKU senior catcher Matt Rice was named the school’s male scholar athlete of the year at a Monday banquet.
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Offseason position battle: UK catcher

College Baseball

Marcus Nidiffer, center; Photo: UK Athletics

In the fifth University of Kentucky post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant catcher position.

The departed — Catcher Marcus Nidiffer, a 2010 senior, started 43 of UK’s 56 games in 2010, batting .320 with 10 home runs, 35 RBI, 32 runs scored and a .571 slugging percentage. In his final home at-bat Nidiffer launched a grand slam to send UK to a must-have victory over LSU. Nidiffer committed just two errors on the season, though opposing base runners were successful in 79.5 percent of stolen base attempts when he was catching. Nidiffer signed a free-agent contract with the Houston Astros after not being selected in the 2010 draft and was named an Astros organizational all-star after slugging 14 home runs in his first 69 professional games. Nidiffer will likely begin 2011 with the Lexington Legends.

Returning candidates — Sophomore Luke Maile looks to take Nidiffer’s spot not only as UK’s primary catcher but also as the team’s vocal leader. In 26 games as a freshman Maile was 7-35 with three home runs, six RBI and six runs scored. He threw out just two of the ten base runners who tried to steal against him last season. Maile was the 43rd round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2009…Junior catcher Michael Williams will likely split time with Maile at catcher and first base after batting .241 with four doubles, six RBI and three runs scored in 2010. Williams was named an all-star in the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer and was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the league by Baseball America…Redshirt junior catcher T. J. Daugherty appeared in three games for UK in 2010.

Newcomers to watch — Maile and Williams all but have the top two catching positions on the UK depth chart locked up, but the Cats did add two new catchers to the roster this season. Freshman Steven Hoagland will likely serve as a bullpen catcher for the Cats, while freshman Thomas Bernal will be used primarily as an infielder. Bernal is listed as an infielder/catcher on the roster, giving UK head coach Gary Henderson some useful late-inning flexibility.

Wildcard — Freshman catcher Micheal Thomas redshirted during the 2010 season but started 21 games for the Lexington Hustlers this summer. Thomas struggled with the bat during his time with the Hustlers, going just 14-76, so his primary role for UK in 2011 will likely be a bullpen catcher and possible defensive replacement.

Kentuckians in the NYCBL

College Baseball

We’ll continue our look at where Kentucky collegians are playing summer leauge baseball with the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Check out the list of Kentuckians below with their college and NYCBL teams:

  • RHP Kyle Williams — Morehead State University — Allegany County Nitros
  • RHP Shane Stancill — University of Cumberlands — Albany Dutchmen
  • OF/RHP Sam Kidd — University of Kentucky — Amsterdam Mohawks
  • C Luke Maile — UK — Amsterdam Mohawks
  • RHP Sean Bouthilette — UK — Amsterdam Mohawks
  • C T. J. Daugherty — UK — Mohawk Valley Diamond Dogs
  • 3B Tyler Townsend — UK —  Mohawk Valley Diamond Dogs
  • OF Jared Clarkson — University of Louisville — Oneonta Outlaws
  • OF Tyler Fisher Georgetown College — Allegany County Nitros
  • C Brian Erie — Northern Kentucky University — Elmira Pioneers
  • RHP Matt Atkins — Kentucky Wesleyan University — Geneva Red Wings

UK drops first of season in 12-4 blowout by San Diego St.

College Baseball

The University of Kentucky lost its first game of the season Friday after San Diego St. University ace Addison Reed held the Cats to two runs on five hits in six innings. UK sophomore right-handed starter Alex Meyer (2-1) took the loss after allowing seven runs in four and one-third innings. The UK pen surrendered five more runs over the final three and two-third innings.

At the plate, UK was led by sophomore right-fielder Cory Farris, who was 2-4 with two RBI. The Cats featured a slightly different lineup Thursday with usual leadoff man Chris Bisson batting in the three hole and sophomore left fielder Chad Wright taking over the leadoff spot. Redshirt sophomore catcher T. J. Daugherty was 1-1 with two RBI. The loss dropped the Cats to 7-1 on the season. (Box Score)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Cory Farris — Not a lot went right for the Cats against San Diego St. and their hall-of-fame head coach Tony Gywnn. Farris was the only UK player with multiple hits in the game and also added two RBI and a double.